Middle East

Syria eyes Western reparation for 'deaths by sanctions'

A man cycles past damaged cars that are piled up to be used as cover from snipers in the Khaldiyeh area of Homs February 19, 2013. REUTERS/ Yazan Homsy

DAMASCUS: A cabinet minister on Tuesday said his country will demand compensation from Western officials who have imposed sanctions on Syria causing the deaths of "thousands".

"Who said that the embargo does not kill," Domestic Trade and Consumer Protection Minister Qadri Jamil said during a speech to parliament, which was broadcast by Syrian state television.

Syria "will reclaim its rights by holding world officials accountable for imposing this unjust embargo that has killed thousands of Syrians," he said.

Jamil, who is also deputy prime minister for economic affairs, said that the government had "not yet calculated the number of Syrians who perished because of the embargo, cold, hunger and disease."

"We have been harmed by foreign intrusions. Compensation must be paid to the Syrian people," he said.

The regime of President Bashar al-Assad is battling a nearly two-year revolt, which broke out in March 2011 and steadily militarised under state repression.

The European Union has imposed 19 rounds of sanctions on Syrian individuals and companies with ties to Assad's regime, as well as an oil and arms embargo. The United States has imposed similar sanctions.

The violence has killed more than 70,000 people, while over 850,000 people have fled the country and more than four million are in need of assistance, the United Nations says.

Officials and state media have consistently painted activists and armed rebels alike as terrorists, and the popular uprising as a plot backed by Western powers, Turkey and several Gulf states.





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